Standards: ISO 2709

Did you know that ISO 2709 (the standard of which MARC21 is an instance) is fairly general? It allows for:

  • tags which include letters and numbers (though they must still be of length three, like MARC21′s numeric tags)
  • up to nine indicators (MARC21 always has two)
  • subfield codes of length up to nine (MARC21 always has this length as two, as subfield codes like “ǂb” are two characters long)

The indicator count and subfield code length are encoded in every MARC record’s leader in positions 10 and 11; note that the spec says these should always be “2″ and “2″.

I revisited this standard again recently to determine why some vendor records were causing trouble; their leaders had position 11 set to “0″, indicating that the subfield code length was zero:

    01710nam a2000385 a 4500

though the record was full of subfield codes of length 2 (like ǂa).

This was easy enough to fix in batch (that leader position should always be “2″, so I just overwrote what was there) and I’ve contacted the vendor to let them know about the strangeness in their records. Hopefully they’ll be fixed on the vendor’s site before they cause any more trouble!


1999 Standard for central station air-handling units / Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute. (OCLC #954217642)

It can be hard to catalog a piece if you’re unsure exactly what you’re dealing with.

This publisher site indicates that there are two versions of this standard: ARI 430-89 (January 1989) and ARI 430-99 (July 1999). The title page says this is the 1999 standard, but the running title has the old number (ARI 430-89). We’ve had this standard in our library a long time (uncataloged), and it was locally labeled as “ARI 430-89 1999”. I didn’t find any copy in OCLC that had all these elements.

I wondered if this was the 1999 standard and they’d just neglected to update the running title, but I’ve checked online copies of that version, and they have different contents.

Rather than struggle with it further, I chose to follow the RDA guidance to “take what you see” and just recorded what’s on the piece in a new record:

245 00 ǂa 1999 Standard for central station air-handling
    units / ǂc Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute.
246 1_ ǂi On cover: ǂa Standard 430
246 17 ǂa ARI standard 430-89

Cotton flour bag (sack) towels : a recorded voluntary standard of the trade. (OCLC #890720497)

Cataloging commercial standards creates a fun opportunity to look up subject headings I’ve never used before, like:

    650 _0 ǂa Dish towels ǂx Standards.

There is also a code for the Cont: fixed field for titles containing standards and specifications:

    Cont: u

A search for an LC classification correlated to “Dish towels” produced no results (though I was pleased to see Dishwashing–Fiction nearby), but the broader term “Towels” suggested TS1781, which is for Miscellaneous textiles including bagging, shawls, towels, etc. so we have the call number:

    TS1781 ǂb .C68 1951